The Luv Doc: Hyperbolic Acid

Enhancing the emotional impact of an otherwise unremarkable set of facts

The Luv Doc: Hyperbolic Acid

Luv Doc,
I think my co-worker might be the spawn of Satan. She is such a huge bitch. She is always bossing people around (even though she is not their boss), or trying to take credit for someone else’s work, or criticizing people behind their backs, or sucking up to our manager and telling lies about people. How can we kill her without leaving a corpse?
- Homicidal

Sounds like you’re on the right track, Homicidal. You seem to be really thinking this through … considering all the angles. I am going to assume you have already purchased your “Mean People Suck” bumper sticker and found, surprisingly, that its intended target didn’t even notice. Why would she? She’s too busy being mean to notice your clever bumper sticker – even if it’s right there on your desk. What an unobservant asshole! So, let me be among the first to commend you on deciding to take a stand against the forces of evil. I say “deciding” of course, because you haven’t actually carried out your plan of action – perhaps because somewhere deep down (or maybe not that deep at all) you realize what a horrible fucking idea it is. In fact, it is my guess that rather than being a legitimate question about a badly misguided plan of action, what you are actually doing with the whole murdering-the-spawn-of-Satan scenario is employing hyperbole.

I will fully admit that when it comes to successfully murdering someone and disposing of the corpse, my knowledge is limited to a couple of choice episodes of Breaking Bad that involve Walt dropping body parts into a barrel of acid. What I do know a lot about, however, is hyperbole. In fact, I fancy myself a bit of a savant when it comes to the manufacture thereof. Hypebole makes things seem much bigger and more extreme than they really are – most often through the use of factual exaggeration. Hyperbole is a handy tool for telling stories – especially when you want to enhance the emotional impact of an otherwise unremarkable set of facts in order to sway your audience, but if you are trying to solve problems, hyperbole only makes things worse. Problems are solved with solutions, not emotions, so if your solution is a vat of hyperbolic acid, you’re just going to get a bigger problem.

Therefore, in regard to your co-worker I encourage you to dispense with the hyperbole and address each problem as it arises. By that I mean you need to try to separate your emotions from the facts and try to work directly and consistently with this woman to find a solution. That means being brave. That means being open to other points of view. That means seeing this woman as a person and not the spawn of Satan. Are you up to it?

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Dan Hardick

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